at two ment

Last time I considered one of the Bible metaphors that tries to explain what happened when Jesus died on the cross – the courtroom.

Today, we look at another one:

The Money TrapIn order to buy a new car you have borrowed £1000 from a payday lender. You thought you would be able to repay it very quickly but you have been unable to make any payments and the interest at 4670% APR (yes, they really do charge that much!) means that the sum just keeps getting bigger and bigger. You tried paying some of it off with your credit cards, but they soon maxed out and now you are paying interest on those too.

There’s no way you will be able to repay what you owe and you just keep sinking further and further into debt. You cannot see any way out of the money trap. You feel helpless, ashamed and desperate.You are really embarrassed about having got yourself into this situation and try not to let anyone know, but eventually it becomes obvious to your family that you are up to your neck in debt and will soon go under completely.

Your father hears about the situation. Because he is your father and he loves you he cashes in his pension early and uses all of that money to pay off all of your debts. They have been paid in full. You no longer owe anything. You are free from debt.

How do you feel?

This image of the atonement takes seriously the helplessness of each one of us to deal with the consequences of our rebellion against God / falling short of his standards / sin. We can’t sort ourselves out. We owe a debt we can’t repay. But God has paid the debt for us: when Jesus died on the cross the debt was paid in full. It cost God, our Father, but the price is paid.

Variations on that story might include us owing the money and the lender writing off (or forgiving) the debt but the main point is the same – we can’t pay what we owe, but God has done it for us.

Sends a shiver down your spine when you think about it, doesn’t it?

Next time, washing day

Be blessed, be a blessing

the bloggage where I get a bit political…

Warning. This bloggage may start off a bit warm and fluffy but it has teeth!

Tomorrow I will be performing some of my tricks for a party for people who are being blessed by the local Christians Against Poverty team. They are great people, and so are the CAP team! CAP works “to lift people out of debt and poverty. We offer free debt counselling through a network of 239 debt centres based in local churches.” (from their website)

Earlier this week there was a debate in Parliament on a motion…

“That this House notes that the number of people using foodbanks provided by the Trussell Trust alone has increased from 41,000 in 2010 to more than 500,000 since April this year… and further calls on the Government to bring forward measures to reduce dependency on foodbanks, including a freeze on energy prices, a water affordability scheme, measures to end abuses of zero hours contracts, incentives to companies to pay a living wage and abolition of the under-occupancy penalty.”

There was also call for an inquiry into the circumstances that had led us to this situation in our society.

20131219-221301.jpgRegrettably, or (in my opinion shamefully) the Government voted against this motion. There were some scenes during the debate that made me ashamed. Government MPs shouted, ‘hooted’ and ‘brayed’ as the motion was being put (it was proposed by Labour). Responses from the Government were not delivered by the Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith (who left before the debate had ended) and were at best evasive and at worst wrong (Esther McVey the Government Minister in her response said that there were only 60,000 Foodbank users, for example). Worst of all was when MP’s on the Government benches were actually laughing out loud when a Labour MP was saying that some people were so poor that they were fighting over the discounted items in supermarkets. The Mirror newspaper got rather upset.

The motion was defeated. If you want to know who voted against it, there’s a list here. I am sad to see that my local MP, Sir Bob Russell, was among them. (For clarity and by way of balance I would like to make it clear that he was not involved in the behaviour above, and is a supporter and Trustee of our local Foodbank. His reasons for voting against the motion were to do with the party political nature of the motion.)

The official line from the Government was to ‘welcome’ the rise in Foodbanks. And that rather missed the whole point of the debate. Yes, it is good that people are rising to meet the challenges of poverty and debt in our society (and many are Christians). But rather than welcoming the rise in charitable support why isn’t our Government addressing the causes of this increased poverty? And if there were some aspects of the motion that the Government felt they could not support, why not put in an amended motion that at least addressed some of the issues or promise to do some things to address the issues raised?

If an MP’s house had a gas leak would they open the window to get rid of the smell of gas or would they sort out the problem at source? Well, in my personal opinion, something stinks in our society and those who can do something about it seem content that charities just open the windows and decided not to address the leak.

This is not a party political issue. To amend something I have said before on this bloggage –  when Jesus said, “You will always have the poor with you” the correct response is not to jeer, bray, shrug your shoulders and blame someone else it’s to join forces with those who say, “Challenge accepted!” and do something about the causes of poverty as well as treating the symptoms.

Be blessed, be a blessing